Club talk

What should supporters be hoping for over the close season…?

I don’t think Rowland Winter officially takes over the reins until the end of May, by which time we’ll only be 8 weeks away from the pre-season friendlies. However, two months is plenty of time to change things around and put in place the various systems that will be so relied upon come the start of the season.

It appears that Rowland Winter’s remit will be a wide one and I think we can expect to see changes to areas of the club outside that of just playing affairs.

I think I can mention at this late stage in the season that I met with Rowland Winter several weeks ago at his invitation. Ostensibly, it was a chance for the DoR-elect to meet with a fairly typical Cov supporter and gain some sort of understanding of what the view from the stands might be, having previously met with those with a more vested interest in the club – players, the Board members, sponsors, etc.

It was also, I guess, a chance to meet the person who would be potentially writing about his team on a daily basis.

I was impressed that he should want to meet with supporters even before his tenure had officially begun especially as the club hasn’t once acknowledged the existence of the blog in the 9 months it’s been going, even to say ‘look it’s not something we feel we can officially be involved’ (or even want to be involved in, despite me contacting the club to ask for some guidance without any response).

I do genuinely believe that RW is more aware of the importance of good PR and communication with the supporters than is the case at present.

He was extremely honest and open, so much so that he has made writing the blog very difficult since then because there are a number of things he covered which would have made extremely interesting posts. I was impressed with much of what I heard and with the man himself…he had an incredibly detailed knowledge of the club even at that relatively early stage and his vision is one that most of us would be prepared to buy into, albeit at the expense of several players who we feel deserved the opportunity to remain at the club they love.

I mention this meeting only in passing because it is relevant to this particular post. He is very interested in reaching out to the supporters and getting them more involved. I know he wants to set up a supporter’s club and is hoping to meet with supporters on a regular basis. He understands concerns about some aspects of communication and feels that the website could better serve the needs of its supporters, even to the extent of having a junior section.

I do think there will be some real changes made in the area of communication over the next 12 months and with Cliff B also in discussions with Jon Sharp about similar possible areas of development, the picture seems much rosier than it did some 12 months ago. I’m sure they will all move things forward.

Exciting times.

Small steps at the moment, but in the right direction nevertheless.

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And so to the main thrust of today’s post…as a supporter what would I hope to see happen over the next few weeks in readiness for the start of the pre-season games in August?

Well, one of the first things I would like see is quick access to an accurate and updated squad list with a short biography on each player…nothing grand at this stage , just a photo, previous club and perhaps height/weight/position. This would obviously be on the website and available well before the first friendly (preferably updated as each new player is announced), together with something similar in the first programme so that we have photos to refer to – with so many new players joining the club it’s going to take a few games to learn their names.

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The dates of the friendlies should be known sooner rather than later. August is a time many families go on holiday and dad’s might want to plan their breaks around Cov games where possible. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding that you’re booked to go away for 10 days and you’re going to miss the two biggest games pre-season.

Together with the friendlies, it would be good if as many of the Nighthawks fixtures could be released as is possible before the start of the season, certainly those taking place before Christmas anyway. Alongside the fixtures, a brief statement as to what the Nighthawks are about would be welcome – who’s eligible, what the significance of the games is etc etc

A word about the friendlies – whilst the games last August against Ealing Trailfinders and London Welsh, both from the Championship, offered excellent entertainment and were both extremely competitive and hard fought, I’m not sure that in some way they weren’t responsible in part for the difficulties we experienced in mid-September.

The games took a lot out of players and in some respects we peaked too early…the games must have taken their toll and psychologically I do wonder if they resulted in some over-confidence – we performed so well against Ealing in particular, yet perhaps didn’t focus enough on those two early defeats against Hartpury and Richmond believing that we had already proved ourselves a couple of weeks previously. Did we take the foot of the gas?.

Is it best to play teams a league above us and who are fully professional, so bigger and stronger and fitter, or test ourselves against the better National 2 teams or equivalent…?

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In addition to the above, it would be good to have a couple of ‘Meet the Coaches’ sessions in the bar in the evening, or even after an open coaching session on a Saturday. I’d be really interested to hear how the coaches are working with players in the build up to the league games – just how expansive will the rugby be next season, what the coaches main focus is at this stage of the season, what fitness work the players are presently concentrating on, the importance of diet and nutrition etc etc.

A pint and a chat in the bar…relaxed and in the form of a talk plus q+a session or something similar…it would be a quick way of allowing supporters to become more involved and informed and might prevent misunderstandings further down the line.

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I do think an open training session on a Saturday morning or afternoon, with an opportunity for youngsters to have their pictures taken with players or get some autographs afterwards, would be welcomed. Most of us have only seen the players involved in pre-match warm-ups, so a full-on training session might make us realise just what is expected of the players during the week once the season has started. Include a barbecue and a chat to the players’ session and you might get a decent amount of interest.

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In addition, it would be good to get some definitive statement regarding the kit for the forthcoming season – maybe it could be announced at the open training session. Such an announcement could include details of the change in supplier (if that is to be the case), together with mock ups of the new kit and a guarantee (!) that it will be available from the first home game  – probably asking a bit too much, but if you don’t ask…

And perhaps a glimpse of the away kit, too? Will we see the repeat of this season’s shocking-pink-affair-that-never-was…I do hope so. In a top 5 list of the season’s greatest disappointments, the non-appearance of the away kit is right up there alongside the Esher game (away  and we played in blue…)

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And finally, it would be good to see some further developments with regard to the website. It is the vehicle by which all news pertaining to the club should be released and as such is the primary source of information. It has improved of late, but there is still much that could be done with it, especially in terms of information regarding the squad, weekly team news, etc etc. I’m not going to go over old ground,  but a quick search of previous posts would detail some of the many suggestions made in the past as to how the website could be improved.

Finally, once the season starts, I would love to see the programmes stored onto a section of the website so that it is possible to go back and read one from a missed game. Alongside that it would be fantastic if there could be a table  of the appearances each player has made, to include the opposition and the position, updated after each game and with some additional info such as try/point scorers, cards, attendances etc

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The above is merely a wish list, nothing more.

Included are some of the things that would help raise supporters’ anticipation of the coming season and hopefully generate more interest once it has started.

The more supporters are kept informed, the more they will want to be involved…

 

6 replies »

  1. I imagine RW will have been regularly looking at the forum and your blog to garner some information on the feelings of (some of) the fans, and will be very aware that he has a bit of a job to do in order for all the supporters to buy into his vision. Meeting with yourself makes a lot of sense, as your blog is neither uber critical or overly fawning – it is a balanced view of a long (long, long, long) time supporter of the club. It’s been mentioned before by myself that it’s a shame no more Cov fans really do the same thIng as yourself.
    The match day programme has a double page of the players photos/positions/sponsors, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do the same on the website for fans to get to know the faces, and also it could be used as an extra ‘bonus’ for current or prospective sponsors if they’re mentioned on the website as well as the programme.
    I think the club has to really raise it’s game in respect to attracting more regular increased attendance, thus raising revenue. Due to the appearance of Wasps in the city, I think people at the club have too be thinking slightly differently when trying to attract new potential supporters, and turn them into regular attendees/season ticket holders.
    I bought myself one of the pink away shirts last week, a bit of a rush of blood to the head I think! I do hope they use the same colour next season – and I hope they actually get to wear it this time.

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    • Totally agree about the need for the club to raise its game as far as marketing is concerned…even this season with some canny use of social media//incentives I reckon attendances could have been on average at least 100 paying fans more each game…100*15*15 equates to £22500, enough to add George Oliver or Sam Pailor to the squad perhaps? The incentives need to come early in the season, not at the end so that if they enjoy coming to Cov, hopefully they’ll repeat it over the course of the season. Nighthawks games should be free to members or anyone who can produce a ticket from the previous 1st XV home game, pay for one game, get the next half price (and to balance it up, members get to go to Nighthawks games for free), once you’ve been to 5 games (keep the stub) you get a free scarf (members get one free)…there must be lots of ways to increase attendance without it reducing revenue and of course additional numbers through the turnstiles mean an increase in bar takings…
      RW is media savvy…he’ll get things moving and with hopefully Cliff pushing for a supporters’ club, things could and should move forward.
      I didn’t buy the pink shirt…there’ll be a change in suppliers next season…the pink one’s out of date already!!!

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      • I thought the pink shirt would be out of date next season, but it was only a tenner. When I’m wearing it in 15 years (or so) time to a game and someone child/grandchild asks about it I can say it’s the legendary shirt that never was! It is also instantly retro, the other word for out of date.

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  2. Going over old ground, but i would like to see Sam and George staying with the club!
    Additional to the points you have raised Tim, we all know that one of the biggest disappointments/frustrations was the complete lack of communication about anything until the last few months, although it is still nowhere near where it should be, but like you have said, under the new direction this should improve. Your and Cliffs respective meetings are very positive news.
    I also think that we let our selves down so badly with any form of club promotion to try and attract new fans or passing trade, it is all very much piece meal with what seems to be no clear direction in attracting new support. We know there are at least another 600 fans on top of this years highest attendance that we achieved in last seasons campaign, but really we should be pushing to achieve 2500 and this target should be set as “someones” goal to get to by whatever means at their disposal not just an occasional “bring a mate for a tenner” day.
    To round off, Fans away days and Supporters coach travel, always a fantastic day out with great banter between fans, the club need to invest in helping with this, one fan in the main keeps this going until the funds run out as happened this season. Maybe the whole management of this should be organised by the club?

    Anyway roll on Saturday! Come on Cov.

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    • Hi Phil,
      Quite agree the club should do what Henley does and find sponsors for coaches to away games (Henley have four games sponsored this way) – preferably to the games that are furthers away, or hardest to reach vial public transport…with first dibs to those who use the coaches to other games. Have always thought it should be managed by the club too, palming it off onto the supporters is ridiculous, especially when it then lands onto the plate of just one person. Perhaps that is something the supporters club, if it take off, will be able to work with the club on…?
      Cov to win by 20 points on Sat…

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